Product release posts are often snoozeworthy. Even to engaged customers, they can feel like reading an instruction manual rather than a source of inspiration.
But releasing features effectively is an essential element in the growth of a software business.
When your customers adopt your new features, they become better at their job. You become stickier to them, and they become less likely to churn.
When it comes to blogging about your new feature, there are 3 types of posts. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and each suits best dependending on the feature, release cadence and customer.
1. Product Release Notes
“Release Notes” aka “Feature Roll-ups” aka “Feature Roundups” are seen in many mature SaaS businesses as a way to deliver detailed information about product updates to customers. These posts are typically in list format and are feature-focused.
The advantage of posting release notes is that it allows you to communicate a vast amount of updates in a succinct manner. Your customers can digest the updates and chat with your Customer Support Team as necessary. Feature roll-ups may make sense for companies who are on a regular product release schedule.
For companies not on a regular release schedule, but on a monthly roll-up schedule, you can run into snags around the timing of your communications. It can be awkward to tell customers about a new feature weeks after it has been released, so a nice way to communicate new features to customers as they go live is with in-app messaging. HubSpot exercises this format by supplementing their monthly release blog with messaging inside their app like this:
The drawback to feature roll-ups is that they sometimes read like raw release notes from the team. Although this may help customers, it can alienate prospects when published on the company blog.
Customers don’t care that your “API now exposes 3x the amount of data.” But they do care that they can “save time and make more money with improved data analysis.” Engineering speak needs to be translated to marketing speak for the feature release blog.
Even when written in marketing dialect, feature roll-ups may be better separated out into a wholly unique customer blog or filed into a ‘customers’ category on your blog.
Here’s a good example of a monthly feature roll-up post from Help Scout:
2. The new feature announcement
This is perhaps the most popular type of feature release post. These posts go out at an irregular cadence to announce and introduce features to customers and prospects as they go live.
A good example of this is from Basecamp:
As demonstrated by the Basecamp post, new feature announcements often include the following elements in (roughly) this order:
- The dilemma that the team sought to solve for its prospects or customers
- The announcement of the new feature
- What it looks like
- How to use it
- Reiteration of value-prop
This style post often does a better job to lay out the dilemma and benefits of a given feature. They serve nicely to keep early-stage supporters stay in tune with your progress.
3. The subtle mention
Just because you purpose is to introduce a feature, doesn’t mean you have to let that motive drive the post. Features can be introduced in more subtle ways in blog posts too.
If your product release is composed of something less impactful such as UI updates, it may not be well suited for a big announcement post. Alternatively, it can get a simple mention in a post focused on the related problem that your customers are having.
By focusing on the problem you are solving rather than the feature itself, you can create content that resonates with your greater audience of prospects. And by placing your product as the solution, you may entice prospects to buy—or at least lead them further down their decision making process.
But in order to pull this off, there are some guidelines you should follow:
- Delay the entry of your product until the end of your post
- Don’t mention that the product is new
- Frame it as something your audience needs in order to help them accomplish their goals
- Don’t go into detail of how the product works
- Don’t include any annotated images of the product
Other benefits to subtle mention style posts are their ability to be syndicated by other relevant blogs and publications. Here’s a good example of a post by Profitwell that thoroughly examines a specific problem that their audience of growing SaaS companies are having. They mention their feature subtly by dropping in screenshot.
Now that you know
Having a better understanding of new feature blog post formats should help you in your campaigns to gain new feature adoption. Hopefully now you know what post to use and when and why different companies use different styles.
When it comes time to write your next post, you should know the format and style it should take based on these 9 factors.
If you ever find yourself stuck or wanting feedback on a product release blog post, feel free to send it my way. I’m always happy to try and help :)